The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Boost to Naga unity bid

Dimapur, Feb. 18: In a positive response to S.S. Khaplang’s call for unity, the NSCN (I-M) today said the rival insurgent leader’s statement could be the stimulus for a new campaign to reconcile warring Naga groups.

“If we are all concerned about Naga unity, things should move in the right direction. In fact, our collective leadership had similarly appealed to all to give suggestions for the progress of the peace process,” the convener of the NSCN (I-M)’s ceasefire monitoring cell, Phungthing Shimrang, said here.

During a recent interview to The Telegraph at the NSCN (K)’s council headquarters in Myanmar, Khaplang had revealed that his outfit was ready to walk the extra mile to ensure “unity and reconciliation” of the feuding Naga militant groups. He claimed to have worked out a “unity formula” and forwarded it to the Naga Hoho, which is the apex council of all Naga tribes.

Khaplang said leaders of all outfits should “seek forgiveness from God and the Naga people for their mistakes”. He also suggested that senior leaders of all groups be included in a new “umbrella organisation”.

Shimrang said the NSCN (I-M) was yet to receive the proposal, but committed its support to any initiative for unity of the Nagas.

The NSCN (I-M) leader also indicated his appreciation of Khaplang’s remark about the Tangkhul community.

Khaplang had said that some “young” functionaries of his outfit erred in calling the Tangkhuls a non-Naga tribe.

“It is good that he has clarified his standpoint. It is now up to the people to judge whether he would be able to check his errant cadres from making such remarks again. Also, we will have to wait and observe how much control he has over these cadres. Nevertheless, what he said sounds positive,” Shimrang said.

On allegations that the NSCN (I-M) is meddling in the electoral process in Nagaland, the rebel leader said no political party should try to “cash in on our name”.

Describing the NSCN (I-M) as a “hot cake”, he said, “Every A, B and C wants to capitalise on our name. But they should know that we are not a commodity.”

Shimrang accused the major political parties of trying to take credit for the truce between the NSCN (I-M) and the Centre.

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